New on the Minnesota Travel Scene

By Erica Wacker

Minneapolis Hosts MLB All-Star Game

Baseball fans will take over downtown Minneapolis when the MLB All-Star Game plays out at Target Field on July 15. This is the first time Minnesota has hosted the midsummer classic since 1985, and the first time it will be played at the Twins new outdoor ballpark.

Five days of events lead up to the game, including a home run derby, celebrity softball game and FanFest at the Minneapolis Convention Center, which features exhibits, batting cages, memorabilia and free autograph sessions.

Go Geocaching on the Paul Bunyan Trail

GeocachingGeocaching – the high-tech scavenger hunt game played around the world – is the newest way to explore the 112-mile Paul Bunyan Trail. More than 1,000 caches are hidden along this popular paved trail, which extends from Brainerd to Bemidji. Experienced and novice geocachers can hike, bike, jog or rollerblade between the caches.

Part of the fun is not knowing what you’ll find or quite where you’ll find it – even the tops of trees are not off limits. Bring your hiking shoes, GPS device and a sense of adventure.

Find New Thrills at Valleyfair

A new rollercoaster is at the center of a whole new area geared toward families at Valleyfair amusement park in Shakopee. The Northern Lights coaster travels over 300 feet of track at speeds up to 43 miles per hour, and a dancing light show will add to the fun after dark.

The coaster is part of the new Route 76 area, which reintroduces three classic rides to the park: the Tilt-a-Whirl, the Scrambler and Antique Autos, a roadway featuring Cadillac-style cars.

Footbridge Reopens at Jay Cooke State Park

The iconic swinging bridge at Jay Cooke State Park in Carlton, just south of Duluth, is back open after a flood forced it to close in June 2012. The reconstructed bridge features improvements that make it wheelchair accessible, and cedar log handrails and stone support pillars were designed to closely match historical photos of the bridge from the 1930s.

Elsewhere at the park, the River Inn interpretive building was renovated to allow for expanded exhibits and other upgrades.

New Outlet Mall Comes to Eagan

Expected to open in August, a new shopping center in Eagan will have more than 100 outlet stores, including several that will be the retailers’ only Minnesota location. Tenants announced thus far include designer brands Tommy Hilfiger, Cole Haan, Calvin Klein and Michael Kors; apparel stores J. Crew, American Eagle and Chico’s; and specialty retailers Swarovski, Crabtree & Evelyn and Wilson’s Leather.

Explore the Shipwrecks at Duluth Aquarium

The Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth will unveil a new long-term exhibit, called “Shipwrecks Alive!,” this July. The exhibit – the aquarium’s most ambitious to date – will feature three shipwrecks and their accompanying ecosystems representing the Pacific Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and the Great Lakes.

Creatures include trout and tropical fish as well as dusky smooth-hound sharks, zebra sharks and stingrays. Visitors can see the animals that will be part of the exhibit on daily “sneak peek” tours before the July opening.

Tettegouche State ParkNorth Shore Park Gets New Visitors Center

Tettegouche State Park in Silver Bay unveiled its new visitor center this winter. The new, 11,000-square-foot building features interpretive displays, a great room with a fireplace overlooking Lake Superior, an amphitheater, lakeside patio and picnic shelter.

Tettegouche, the fifth-most visited state park in Minnesota, is home to four waterfalls, miles of hiking trails, scenic overlooks and campgrounds.